Ugandan leader wants flight to the moon


AFRICANS MUST put a satellite into space and go to the moon to find out what the Americans are doing there, the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, has said.

Unveiling his 13 point re-election manifesto in the capital Kampala, Mr Museveni said in order to ensure the strategic security of Africa, the five-nation East African Community, which also includes Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya, needed to engineer a space programme in partnership with one another.

“We need to put a satellite in space so that we find out what those Americans are doing there,” he said during the launch of the ruling National Resistance Movement’s 2011-2016 manifesto.

“With the EAC federation, we can have bargaining power and be able to go to the moon.”

His statement has echoes of a failed space programme in Zambia from the 1960s. Edward Nkoloso, a science teacher, failed mayoral candidate for Lusaka and former independence activist, established what he called the Zambian Academy of Science and Space Research.

In an editorial to a Zambian newspaper, he described launching a teenage girl, two cats and a missionary to Mars. However, he said the missionary had been warned not to convert Martians to Christianity if they did not want it.

He applied to Unesco for $7 million (€4.9 million) in funding, but it was never granted.

Last year, the Congolese authorities tried to launch a rat 36km into space. However, the rocket misfired and travelled in the wrong direction.

Mr Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986, is campaigning for an unprecedented fourth term in office. If re-elected in February 2011, he promised that an average Ugandan would be able to earn at least €701 per annum.

The current per capita income of Ugandans is €315.

Although Mr Museveni has long bemoaned his country’s failure to industrialise, sustained economic growth has seen the number of people in poverty drop by 15 per cent in four years to 7.1 million.

However, 83 per cent of young people, who make up 55 per cent of the population, are unemployed, according to the World Bank, and just 6 per cent of the population has access to electricity.

Tamale Mirundi, the president’s press secretary, said: “Yes, we have challenges, but what the president wants to say is that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have ambitions.

“The president has been saying this for some time.”